pic: Al Kills Analog



This is a picture of me killing the analog transmitter on Sears Tower for the last time, June 12, 2009, 05:58:40. WTTW Channel 11 is off the air.



For some reason I always feel depressed when old technology is removed (disabled) for new technology.


In this case, it wasn’t removed or disabled. It was brought back on the air 6 hours later on RF channel 12 for WBBM-DT.


Students take note: analog meters, thumbwheels, illuminated pushbutton switches, mechanical time counters, seven segment LEDs…all kinds of neat 70s stuff! too bad there aren’t any nixies

We lost a station with the transition. One of the Tucson stations had been transmitting digital on Channel 35 and analog on Channel 9, and decided to turn off 35 and go digital on 9…which is VHF…and we have a UHF antenna, and they’re far away. Oh well.


Video killed the Radio Star, and now Al kills Analog. What is this world coming to? When will the murders stop…:confused:

Congrats Al. That is really cool. Was it really just pressing a button?


Well you are in the coverage area for channel 9, you just need to get a VHF antenna. But you probably new that already.


Yes, it was just pressing the button for the last and final time. Button kills the 50 volt, 800 amp power supply. The next time that transmitter comes back on, it will have been converted to a digital linear amp capable of 18kW but only licensed for 1800 Watts. The transmitter is not that old, early 90’s, all solid state power Motorola FET design made in Missasauga, Ontario.


It’s awesome that you got to do this. The switch has been the biggest buzz in our TV department since the finale of Lost. You’re lucky to be a part of the end of an era. Yet another reason that you are the most influential mentor I have ever had.



Great photo Al.

Sad in some ways, but exciting in others. NTSC (the old analog standard for color video - stands for “Never Twice the Same Color”) has served us well, but it’s a bandwidth hog and has some technical shortcomings. ATSC (the new digital standard) is as slick as it could be (considering it was designed by committee, in the 1990’s).

My only despair is that I can no longer demodulate video with a diode. Never needed to, though :stuck_out_tongue:

I will now re-purpose all my analog TVs to Amateur Fast-Scan TV, which usesd NTSC and can be found around UHF Channel 60 or so. Boy, those ham radio guys are into everything, eh?


Transitions are always a little sad, but the changeover seems to have gone better than expected.

Good Job, AL.

One of my “Back when I was your age” stories is that they would turn TV off at night so you had to go to bed. It’s was not this 24/7 they have now.


I don’t really consider myself lucky but I do feel somewhat privileged. I was there when stations were still broadcasting some of their programming in B/W. I was part of the development of stereo for TV in the US and now I have lived to see analog die and digital start.
I started with a PBS station in Peoria, IL that broadcast for 1.5 hours in the morning (Sesame Street and Electric Company) and then turned back on at 4-10PM. This station was off for at least 6 hours each week night and 7-8 hours on the weekend nights when I started. As cable started being the delivery of choice, broadcasters had to maintain 24 hr ops to keep their channel ID on the cable systems. Otherwise, cable operators would put in other programming (infomercials) when we went off the air or would move us to a different channel than our over the air assignment.

What a lot of people don’t realize, is that digital TV is possible/affordable because computer memory is cheap and fast so that MPEG files can be processed and decoded in your receiver.


Oh I don’t know about all that newfangled FET 70’s stuff. Next thing you know they are gonna want us to do digital and robots or something…

I like what I grew up with, the RCA BTA-5 series for AM broadcast service.

Here is a variant for maritime service - back in the day when we had to ‘peak the grids’ and ‘dip the plates’

RCA Transmitter


I used to tell my kids that some of the old shows were in B/W because colors hadn’t been invented yet …

Although I do remember when a cousin got a color TV - it was great to go over and see some football, expecially when one of those red teams like Nebraska or Oklahoma was playing.

I also remember going with my dad to the hardware store to check whether tubes were burned out or not.


In the summer of 1968 we got a color TV.

I immediately watched Curt Gowdy call a baseball game on NBC Sports “Game of the Week”. The grass was green, really really green.

I still remember that game. I think it was the Yankees playing someone, don’t remember who.


I’m probably going to make somebody feel old right now…

before my mom got a color tv, she didn’t understand the big deal with the Wizard of Oz…


Our first color TV was the Heathkit we (kids) built in 1973. Still have it…it still works…


Ahh Heathkit. What a shame they are gone:(


If you want to watch some analog TV, come up to Canada… we’re not switching over until August 2011.

But in the big picture I wonder what format “television” will take in the next five to ten years. The improvement in streaming video over the internet that I have seen over the past five years leaves me wondering how cable, satellite and broadcast TV companies are going to react to the availability of on-demand streaming HDTV… which, if not quite a reality, soon will be.

It will be exciting to see all those TV channels re-purposed to wireless communications, though. It is amazing how much digital data can be packeted down an old NTSC channel.



While I write this, a Heathkit HW101 and matching speaker with HP13B power supply sits on my right and a SB634 Station Console sits on the left with an HW-8 and some test gear is looking down from the shelf behind me.


Grid? Plates?
Oh, you must mean Hollow State components